12:00 PM - 9:00 PM
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Budget Fast Fact #5:
All Glens Falls City School District voters, including those in the town of Queensbury within Glens Falls City Schools—will cast their votes at Sanford Street School from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21. MORE
Jason Brechko, science teacher at Glens Falls Middle School, was named “Educator of the Year” during the YMCA’s Earth Service Awards banquet on May 30, 2013. The awards program recognizes teens and teachers from Warren, Washington and Saratoga Counties who have demonstrated commitment to improving the environment through activities that demonstrate stewardship, leadership, citizenship, and volunteerism.
From the award presentation: “Mr. Brechko is a very driven educator who has taught for Glens Falls High School, and is currently teaching at the Middle School. When he taught high school biology, he was also on the Glens Falls Tree Commission. His students learned to ID trees and worked with Warren County GIS. This information is now available through the Warren County spatial data viewer line as a street tree map of Glens Falls. His earth science students collected depth data for Crandall pond to learn about topographic maps. They turned their data in to Sheri Norton, the Warren County GIS coordinator to make a real bathymetric map of the pond.
“Currently Mr. Brechko runs an outing club that gets kids out mountain biking, geocaching, creek stomping, indoor rock climbing, hiking, skiing, and who knows what else in the future. The goal of the club is for students to establish a connection with nature that hopefully will enrich their lives, motivate them to stay fit, and inspire them to preserve our natural resources.” Congratulations, Mr. Brechko!
Congratulations to middle and high school nurse Margaret Sawyer, for being named "Teacher of the Week" by Adirondack Broadcasting and TCT Federal Credit Union! Along with radio announcements that have run on 100.3 FM, on Tuesday she received a plaque, flowers and other gifts to recognize her commitment to students.
Mrs. Sawyer was described this way in her nomination: “Recently, Mrs. Sawyer was a chaperone at the Glens Falls after-prom and during that event a gentleman was stricken with severe chest pains and having difficulty breathing. Mrs. Sawyer immediately got her medical bag and began an assessment of the man’s condition. She remained calm and was able to help him until medical paramedics arrived on the scene. Her actions were critical during this difficult emergency situation. For her efforts that evening, we congratulate Mrs. Margaret Sawyer!”
Paul Trackey and Hunter Montgomery – both fifth-graders at Glens Falls Middle School – were winners in this year’s American Association of University Women essay contest. The winners were chosen from more than 500 essays submitted by students at several local school districts.
Each student’s essay described a notable woman in history. Paul focused on Harriet Tubman and wrote, "She has inspired many people, including me, to help others in need of guidance… We shouldn't help others because we expect a reward, as the reward is the little spark of joy and happiness inside of us." Hunter wrote about Serena Williams after taking up tennis himself last year, and being inspired by Serena while watching her compete. “Hunter’s essay on Serena Williams was outstanding,” says teacher Amity Luce-Aurilio. “He received 103%. (Three extra points for typing.)”
In the photo at right, contest winners and honorees Paul Trackey, Hunter Montgomery, Dylan Petterson, Sam Bordeau, Sarah Phinney, Alex Dickey, Hannah Walsh, and Kaylee Frank gather with fifth-grade teachers Amity Luce-Aurilio and Mary Lea Raymond.
What would you ask President Abraham Lincoln, if you had the opportunity to interview him? That was the question posed to students in an essay contest sponsored by the Iroquois Reading Council and The Chronicle – and GFMS sixth-graders Samantha Lunt and Drew Floyd have some of the best ideas in the area.
Drew and Samantha were two of ten students in the area who were selected as contest winners for their insightful questions. “They were invited to participate in an afternoon at The Chronicle were they learned the workings of a newspaper and interviewed a "mystery guest" (Eric Gilbert of the Great Escape),” said teacher Mary Hunter. “The students then wrote their own stories which were later shared at a dinner at the Crandall Library where families and teachers were invited to join in.”
Fifth-grader Ella Wolfstitch has also been recently honored for designing the winning poster in the Warren County Health Services’ “Tar Wars” 2013 Tobacco-Free poster contest. Her poster represents GFMS at a statewide competition, and will be featured in a tobacco-free calendar being distributed to all fourth- and fifth-graders in Warren County.
Summer sports camps are being offered by the GFSD Athletic Department. Students can participate in camps for swimming, diving, soccer, triathlon, hockey, baseball, softball, field hockey and girls' lacrosse. Super Hooper basketball camp registration is also now open! The program runs August 5-9, with the boys' camp in the morning, and the girls' camp in the afternoon. READ THE FULL SPORTS CAMP BROCHURE HERE
Glens Falls City School District is recognizing national Teacher Appreciation Week by recognizing committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day this week.
Tuesday's honoree is special education teacher Melissa Rajeski, who works with students at the Middle School. READ MORE HERE
Check back every day for a look inside some of the most dynamic classrooms around our district.
Nearly a hundred Middle School students and staff members joined organizations across the country in riding to school for International Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 8.
Incentives for Glens Falls students to bicycle to school included cycling-themed raffle items provided by Grey Ghost Bicycles, Inside Edge, and Rick’s Bike Shop. 97 bikes were parked in the middle school’s gym on Wednesday, with additional bikes lining the racks on the school’s lawn. “I was very proud to see the number of students who wore their helmet, said Coach Kevin Crossman, who helped organize the event. “I have a feeling this will be much bigger next year.”
P.J. Motsiff's fifth-grade class had more than half of students participating in bike-to-school day, and won a pizza party for the effort. The event raises awareness of increased physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, and concerns for the environment. Additional details are available at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond recently spent an afternoon talking about potential visions for the city with some creative and invested citizens—seventh-graders from GFMS, who have presented their growth ideas to City Hall.
“A few months back, I read an article from the Post Star to the kids about the revitalization of downtown Glens Falls, which in turn generated some interesting discussion,” says English language arts teacher Rob Manning. “I had the kids write a response to the question, ‘what business would you personally like to see come into our town?’ We had some really cool and insightful ideas. One of the students suggested we send the ideas to the mayor. So, we wrote business letters to the mayor with their suggestions.”
Students were excited to have the mayor visit the school and talk about revitalization efforts. “The cool thing is that the kids are genuinely excited about their hometown and what’s going on here,” says Mr. Manning. “Whenever there are articles about revitalization, potential business development or growth, I make it point to share it with them.”
"We see much greater rigor at all levels, and we anticipate assessments to be more challenging.” Those were two of the key points presented at the March 26 Common Core Parent Information Night, which explained how the new COMMON CORE LEARNING STANDARDS are a first step in providing young people with the high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and careers.
The new standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math were fully implemented in September, and the first year of testing on the new grades 3-8 curriculum begins on April 16.
Last week, facilitators from WSWHE BOCES explained what’s different about the Common Core:
In English Language Arts/Literacy: a focus on non-fiction and careful reading; student ability to discuss reading and write using evidence; and increased academic vocabulary.
In Mathematics: students learn more about fewer concepts; focus on skill building, speed and accuracy; and use real world examples to better understand concepts.
A FIELD MEMO from the State Education Dept. noted that “student scores on the Common Core assessments will not be directly comparable to scores from prior-year tests because the assessments are based on different, more rigorous standards.” To see an example of how tests have changed, compare a 2005 SAMPLE TEST FOR GRADE 3 ELA with a 2013 SAMPLE TEST FOR GRADE 3 ELA.How can families prepare? One of many helpful resources on wwww.EngageNY.org is the handout WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN LEARN, an outline that explains what students will be asked to accomplish related to the shifts in ELA and math, and suggests ways parents can reinforce the new skills at home. READ MORE ON THE COMMON CORE PAGE OF GFSD.ORG
Middle school students explored a range of scientific questions this winter, from whether energy drinks help or hurt concentration to whether or not temperature affects the quality of nail polish. The seventh- and eighth-grade science fair took place on March 12, and students have been busy for months.
“This year we gave students a choice between performing traditional science experiment or taking on an engineering/design challenge, so there were a variety of each,” says middle school science teacher Patricia Nixon. “Some students have designed better fishing nets to prevent shark death, designed a remote control garbage can, tested how much people are biased based on looks, tested the effect of video games on aggressive behavior, tested the effects of texting while driving during a video game, and tested the effect of music on learning,” Ms. Nixon continued.
Beginning in November, students formed a hypothesis, determined dependent and independent variables, created procedures and data tables, and performed background research, complete with works cited in MLA format to tie into the Common Core State Standards, said science faculty members.
Eighth-grader Abby Krause wanted to find out what smell is most popular to humans. She performed a “small test” on nearly 100 people to determine which combination of scents was reported as most pleasing. “The winning smell was a combination I created with pina colada, fresh-squeezed orange and Georgia peach,” she said.
Another student studied the efficacy of using dish soap to reduce the effects of oil spills on sea life--using Elodea, an aquatic plant that lives entirely underwater, and two water tanks with various combinations of dish soap and motor oil.
Students presented all their findings to their peers and the community at Thursday night’s fair, which got hundreds of visitors. “Their research projects are an excellent way to practice the scientific methods that are useful in life, and part of the NYS Intermediate Science Standards,” said science teacher Jason Brechko.
This winter, students have been learning Latin dance moves in the high school and middle school gym, thanks to the instruction of professional dancer Johnny Martinez from Tango Fusion in Saratoga. A scholarship from the Adirondack Chapter of U.S. Dance and funding from the BOCES Arts in Education grant brought Mr. Martinez to Glens Falls City Schools for two 4-day series of dance instruction for more than 640 students in grades 6-12.
"The high school physical education department hopes that this experience will provide our students with an appreciation for a form of organized social dance that they may have never experienced before,” says PE teacher Michele Venditto. “As a lifetime activity, dance offers many social and health benefits."
“I actually heard a lot of students say, ‘This isn't as difficult as I thought it would be,’ and ‘This is more fun than I thought!’" added PE teacher Laura Uhly. “I think the students learned about interacting socially in different ways than they are used to—dancing together instead of using technology to interact, and also learned some cultural differences between Latin countries and the US. Overall, it was a very positive experience.”
Students gathered for a large-group performance by Mr. Martinez and partner Diane Lachtrupp Martinez—along with several Glens Falls students—at the conclusion of the units. Tony Farrar and Cheryl Humphrey from Adirondack U.S. Dance were instrumental in bringing this program to GFSD.
More student artwork is on exhibit at a local restaurant in Glens Falls.
Pizza Jerks in Hannaford Plaza began featuring the work of student-artists in grades six through eight earlier this year.
Most recently on display were works from sixth-graders Scotty Jones and Connor Griffith that expressed their views of what a dragon looks like.
Other student-artists’ work is part of the most recent exhibit as well.
Twenty-five of Glens Falls’ student-musicians had the honor of performing in the 2013 All-County Chorus Festival, held at Schuylerville Central School on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26. Vocalists from around the region participated in four different choral groups: Grades 5/6 Chorus, Grades 7-10 Women’s Chorus, Grades 7-10 Men’s Chorus, and Grades 10-12 Mixed Chorus. Glens Falls had representation in every group.
Students are recommended for All County Chorus by their teachers, and selected by committee. NYSSMA Solo Festival scores are often a significant factor in selection. “Glens Falls students were extremely well prepared, behaved professionally and had a lot of fun,” said middle school choral teacher Meredith Reed.
Middle School performers included Lison Tunick, Ryan Burchfield, Karley Barber, Olivia Dybas, Kelsey DiFiore, Lauren Hauster, Piper Orr, Chelsea Smith, Alyssa Fairchild, Elizabeth Fisher, Alex Seney, Adara Hoyne, Bowie Jenne, and Lucy Reid.
High School performers included Kirsa Drobnicki, Anthony Dennis, Erin Burchfield, Mayr Sawyer, Ian Dingman, Jaquelin Mignot, Alanna Floyd, Phil Monrian, and Ali Battease.
“So many people wanted to attend the concert, they had to rotate the audience in and out,” Mrs. Reed said of the concert that began at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Performance highlights included the 5/6 Chorus’ multi-part Serbian folk song called “Niska Banja,” the 7-10 Women’s Chorus’ heartfelt rendition of “The Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, the 7-10 Men’s Chorus’ a cappella arrangement of African Folk Song “Bonse Aba,” and the 10-12 Mixed Chorus’ “Everybody Rejoice” and “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz.
Ten individuals were honored at the district’s annual Founders’ Day event, held at the Middle School on Tuesday, February 12. The evening was a celebration of committed parents and/or staff members from each school. Each honoree had been selected to recognize his or her service and dedication to go above and beyond for the students of Glens Falls City Schools.
Congratulations and thank you to the 2013 Founders’ Day honorees:
- High School: Coach Kevin Crossman
- Jackson Heights: Third-grade teacher Nicole Cremo
- Big Cross: PTA parent volunteers Christine Aiken and Kristen Greenwood
- Kensington Road School: the entire custodial and maintenance staff: Brian Aiken, Hugh Phillips, Mike Wolfe and Bill Craft
- Middle School: librarian Ann Myers
- District: IT staff member Steve Spory
Watch the clip featuring Glens Falls Middle School teachers Jason Brechko and Rob Manning in this segment from WMHT's Our Town: Glens Falls.
Students from around the Capital Region put their heads together at Siena College to put an end to intolerance, bullying, and discrimination. The annual STOP conference, which stands for Students Together Opposing Prejudice, involved hundreds of students from 20 schools—including 11 eighth-graders from Glens Falls Middle School. Students meet in small groups and are involved in activities, workshops, discussions and action planning around issues of prejudice, tolerance, and respect.
“Isaiah Prunty spoke on behalf of GFMS in front of approximately 400 other students at the conference,” said school counselor Kathy Vittengl. Other students attending from GFMS included Kenneth MacDuff, Brittney Strong, Jacob West, Joshua Griffen, Kasey Gorton, Michael Chevalier, Jahne Pulley, Dylan Balcom, Tyrese Jabot, and Tony Green.
“It is our hope that each year that as a result of the conference, Siena sends these students back to their schools as knowledgeable allies for people in need,” said conference organizers. “Some of them will no doubt become student leaders and help bring about the change we all want to see.”
Parents might not tell their kids to play with their food, but sometimes teachers do—when it’s helping to prove a scientific point. Seventh-graders in Megan McCabe’s science class were recently tossing around plastic bags of milk, chocolate, ice cubes and salt to make ice cream—a delicious by-product of the heat transfer process.
The ingredients went in one baggie, the ice and salt in another baggie, and both were placed in a large zip-top bag. Then students worked in teams to shake, toss and jiggle the bags for ten to twelve minutes.
“We use the salt to make the ice extra cold,” said Kara Lynch, as she tossed a bag to partners Jackie Newman and Alix Johnson. “The ice and the salt have a reaction,” she continued, “and it makes the freezing point of water go lower.”
“We look at the effects of heat transfer and phase changes,” says Ms. McCabe. “It’s a fun lab.”
Children with life-threatening diseases are having their wishes granted, thanks to the generosity of students, staff and families district-wide, who collectively raised hundreds of dollars during the district’s 14th annual Make-A-Wish holiday angel sale.
Teams at each school building helped sell paper angels for a dollar each during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas—and each school put their own twist on the effort. “From the singing ‘angels’ during morning announcements at the Middle School to the Kensington students who manned a cookies-and-hot-chocolate stand in their neighborhood, there have been many ways the students and staff in our buildings have all come together to raise money for such a great cause,” said middle school guidance counselor Kathy Vittengl, who leads the effort.
“Around 15 years ago I decided that I had been gifted with a healthy life and I wanted to give back in some way,” said Mrs. Vittengl, who is a trained Wish Granter and has been volunteering with a local chapter for some time. “When I started working at Glens Falls Middle School, I wanted to teach the kids that it's important to give back and appreciate what you DO have.”
Kensington students Caroline Shaver, Kate Barber, Thea Potter and Ashley Bordeaux took that lesson to heart and set up their own stand to sell hot cocoa, cookies and candy canes on the corner of Sheridan and Coolidge. There was no set price for their home-made treats, just a donation to Make-A-Wish. “Mostly people stopped in their cars,” said Kate. “Two guys gave us six dollars each, so that was helpful!” Ashley added. The four third-graders from Melody Morgan-Srygley's class raised $49 and decorated the corresponding 49 paper angels as well.
Another beverage sale added to the overall fundraising effort as well. “The ladies in the MS library hosted a ‘Turtle Coffee’ day where staff could go in and purchase a yummy coffee or tea with whipped cream, butterscotch and chocolate shavings,” said Mrs. Vittengl. “All of the proceeds they donate to Make-A-Wish.” Computer lab teaching assistant Mary Satterfield brought in her own extensive decorating and stamping supplies so students could decorate the angels bought with coffee sale proceeds.
“There were 'Secret Angel' deliveries by the fifth grade, and the MS Student Senate held Festive Friday raffles throughout the month of December to raise money for Make-A-Wish,” said Mrs. Vittengl. “There are beautifully decorated doors, windows, bulletin boards and ceilings throughout our buildings.”
100 percent of the money raised through the Make-A-Wish angel sale goes towards granting wishes of kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
Festive music and wide smiles have filled our stages almost every night in December! Holiday concerts were held at Kensington Road, Jackson Heights and Big Cross Street Schools in early December. The High School’s Chorus, Symphonic Band, and Orchestra performed on Dec. 12, and the Middle School’s Sixth-Grade Band, Sixth-Grade Orchestra, Junior Jazz Ensemble, Junior Band, and Junior Orchestra performed on Dec. 13. The Middle and High School ensembles also performed for their peers during daytime assemblies.
The Middle School’s Fifth-, Sixth-, Seventh-, and Eighth-Grade Choruses perform on Dec. 18 (plus an encore performance for the students’ peers on Dec. 19). At right, Sixth-grade orchestra members Avery Wiggins, Hannah Hawkins and Lauren Hauser tune up their instruments before a performance in the High School Auditorium.
In the wake of Friday's tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, our Glens Falls parents, guardians and other school community members may be wondering how to talk with children about the tragedy.
See the tips in THIS PARENT TODAY ARTICLE: "WHEN THE NEWS GETS SCARY."
The National Association of School Psychologists also offers THESE TIPS FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS on talking with children about violence.
It is important to remember that children will react to this event in different ways. Some may be very upset while others may exhibit seemingly inappropriate responses. Please give your child(ren) an opportunity to express their feelings openly and answer any questions honestly. Remember that different age levels may have different needs--for example, a younger child may be satisfied with more simplified answers. A calm parental approach will help avoid raising anxiety.
If your child expresses unusual or persistent concerns, please let us know by sending a note to your child's teacher or principal who will forward it to a member of our counseling staff.
Eighth-grade students got to share their science expertise and model leadership for their counterparts in fifth-grade, as they taught the younger students how to use more advanced microscopes recently.
Teachers Pat Nixon and Mary Lea Raymond came up with the idea to have the older students teach the fifth-graders how to focus the microscopes and explain the different powers of each lens. “Up to this point, our fifth-graders have been working with miniature microscopes,” says Ms. Raymond. “The students have been learning how to prepare different types of slides, such as a well slide and a wet-mount slide. Until now, the students have observed non-living things such as feathers, salt, quartz sand, and Epsom salt.”
Although the mini-microscopes have worked well, Ms. Raymond said, the higher-power microscopes will allow students to study living things. “We’ve received our shipment of living microscopic organisms, including Volvox, Blepharisma, and Vinegar Eels,” Ms. Raymond noted. “Today, all the fifth-graders got their first glimpse of these microscopic creatures in a tiny drop of water.”
To do that, the students needed the help of their older guides. Each eighth-grader worked with a small group of fifth-graders to teach the mechanics of the larger microscopes and answer questions. “They have been looking forward to working with the ‘real microscopes’ that the ‘big kids’ use,” said Ms. Raymond. “We did this last year over a few day period and it worked out really well. I think it would be great if we could do more collaborating with older and younger students, rather than just this one time.”
Ms. Nixon's students also worked with Dave Moynihan's and Sharon Varney's classes.
For all district residents, parents and community members, the Glens Falls School News Notifier (SNN) is an opt-in e-mail news system that delivers e-newsletters (CLICK HERE to read the latest edition of E-News for 2011-12), information on building-specific activities and events, Board of Education meetings, the school budget, school closings and delays, sex offender notifications, and other news that affects the whole district. Sign up for SNN today by clicking here: Glens Falls SNN
Middle School students became scribes at the end of November, as they carved cuneiform symbols into clay tablets to wrap up a curricular unit on Mesopotamia. Sixth-graders in Colleen Schefold’s, Mary Hunter’s and Cheryl Williams’ social studies classes each used a stylus to carve pictographic symbols into brown clay tablets, just as scribes in the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations did.
“The students think it is going to be easy, but realize they can have difficulty writing in cuneiform,” says Mrs. Williams. “It is a nice activity to wrap up the unit and give them an insight to the past.”
Sumerians were the first to have developed this primitive form of writing. Cuneiform writings were etched onto clay tablets with a blunt reed, or stylus. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge-shaped, which gave cuneiform its name—from the Latin “cuneus,” meaning "wedge."
Just as the ancient tablets became part of history, the students’ tablets became part of their own personal history at the conclusion of the exercise. “The art teachers fired the tablets in the kiln and the students get to keep them,” says Mrs. Williams. “Some students use them as gifts for family members.”
When Shari Rovetto, owner of local restaurant Pizza Jerks, contacted the Middle School about featuring student artwork in her shop, art teacher Robin Brewer had a concise answer.
And now the shop in Hannaford Plaza features the work of 12 student-artists in grades six through eight.
“This is the first time for middle school students to have work on display in a local business,” says Ms. Brewer, “although we have had work displayed at local galleries in the past – such as the Lapham Gallery at LARAC and the Troy Shirt Factory Gallery.”
“Both Shari and her husband, Iggy were great to work with and they really have the best interest of the kids in mind,” said Ms. Brewer. “They generously offered time, space and food for an opening reception on November 19. The kids and families left with T-shirts and gift certificates.... as well as since of pride and accomplishment (not to mention full bellies).”
Ms. Brewer said the pieces selected for this display needed to be unified in some way. “Therefore an abstract theme, with vibrant color was chosen,” she said. “There are contour line drawings of figures and abstract portraits developed on mixed media surfaces. Some are composition studies using collage techniques. Also on display are relief prints with an emphasis on positive and negative space.”
This exhibit features the work of Justina Aiken, Luke Borgos, Elizabeth Peelor, Hannah Warrington, Miranda Allen, Emily Ash, Mikayla Burrows, Jordan Havens, Kiara Bowen, Tara Cottone, Matt Parent, and Aziza Dashnaw.
“I am so proud of all them and the art work they are sharing with the community,” says Ms. Brewer. “The Rovettos would like this to be year-long event, so Joy Muller-McCoola will be putting together an exhibit of work to be displayed next.”
Owls and other large birds spent some time being “Feathered Ambassadors” in a Middle School science classroom on Thursday, November 29, during a special program on birds of prey. Wildlife rehabilitator and educator Trish Marki from the Wildlife Institute of Eastern New York has been giving these in-school presentations for nearly seven years, and says students enjoy learning about the different adaptations of raptors.
Her team helped explain the different behaviors of each of the four types of raptors (owls, eagles, hawks and falcons), while giving students and up-close look at the birds. (In the photo above, eighth-graders Ellie Gohn, Haylee Lefebrve and Arielle Maille listen to a snowy owl hooting.) Most of the Wildlife Institute birds have been rescued from the wild and rehabilitated.
Ms. Marki talked with the students about conservation issues and what to do if they find injured or orphaned wildlife. She also noted the increased number of Snowy Owls that have been spotted in our community the past couple of winters. She explained that the Snowy Owl lays eggs in the Arctic every five years, based on the population size of its favorite food, lemmings. A previous abundance of lemmings led to a large egg-lay in years past, and now the birds are migrating south for food.
Did you run in a turkey trot Thanksgiving morning? Fifth-graders at the Middle School hosted their own early-morning Turkey Trot run on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving—nearly a mile around the back fields of the school.
“A trail was outlined for students to follow and staff members were stationed at different points to encourage and direct the runners,” says teacher Sharon Varney.
After the run, the students enjoyed blueberry bread, corn bread and more at their second annual Thanksgiving Breakfast. “Our wonderful food service department did a spectacular job baking and working at our breakfast,” says Mrs. Varney.
Before the meal, student-created, thanksgiving-themed placemats were set out randomly at each table. When students found their own placemat for the breakfast, the seating arrangements “encouraged new bonds with new faces,” says Mrs. Varney. “Some placemats included a thanksgiving mad lib story-a fun way of practicing parts of speech. Other placemats focused on an art theme, showcasing colorful construction paper basket weaving.”
The fifth-graders were asked to help create thankful thoughts on autumn-colored leaf cut-outs for Mrs. Aitcheson's THANKFUL bulletin board. Students at every table shared reasons why they were thankful and wrote a special message on the leaves, which are now posted on the first-floor bulletin board.
As a final treat, students got to watch the classic A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving created by Charles M. Schultz. “The students are gaining a sense of community, friendship-building, and appreciation of others,” says Mrs. Varney.
Seventeen of Glens Falls’ student-musicians had the honor of performing in the SWCMEA All-County Band Festival, held right here at Glens Falls on Thursday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 20. Band students from 15 school districts came together to form three bands under the direction of guest conductors.
Students are selected based on their spring NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) solo grades. “Selection is very difficult and our Glens Falls students are to be commended not only for their NYSSMA grades, but for the exemplary manner in which they represented Glens Falls this past weekend,” said music teacher Connie Freeburn.
Middle School students selected include Emily Derrick, Stephanie Meehan, Elizabeth Rosa, Elizabeth Fisher, Trevor Britton, Scott Jones, and Andrew Culliton. High School students selected include Ashley Lewry, Scarlett Dewitt, Sarah Deck, Bailey Harrison, Emily Parent, Andrew Corlew, Bridget Resse, Brian Hughes, Tristan Marler, and Ethan Katz.
“Mr. Bouteiller, Mr. Severance and I were extremely proud of all of them,” said Ms. Freeburn.
With the first day of classes, the Middle School launched a new positive behavior program called PBIS— Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports. The research-based program uses a building-wide instructional approach to behavior and classroom management to help schools improve their educational climate.
"Success" in the program is defined as more time being spent on academics and less time being spent on behavioral problems. And by that measure, the Middle School is on its way to achievement.
"We've had one discipline referral in the first two and a half weeks of school," says Middle School Principal Chris Reed. "Last year during this time frame, we had dozens."
When a student does something he or she isn't supposed to, a staff member completes a form detailing the incident. That form—the discipline referral—then follows the student as multiple staff members work to resolve the problem and provide services for the student.
The use of data, such as the number of referrals, is a big factor in the PBIS program. The program is continually analyzed, and real results are used in team-based decision-making, planning, and problem-solving.
"The challenge, of course, will be to keep our initial success going," says Mr. Reed. "We've focused hard on expectations during these first few weeks."
"We have a common language now," he says, explaining one lesson on expectations for students’ voice volume in various settings—hallways, classroom, playground, etc. "You can hear students passing each other in the hallways saying, 'hey, PBIS!' and reminding their peers if they see somebody who isn't on target."
Being "On Target" with the three pillars of the program has been the major focus of the program's roll-out. Responsible, respectful and safe behaviors are key to PBIS, and students are rewarded for being "caught in the act." When a staff member sees a student doing the right thing, that student gets a "Target Ticket," which is entered into weekly drawings for prizes ranging from a free ice cream to a quiet lunch with four friends—for which staff members pull a cafeteria table outside for the winner and a few buddies to enjoy lunch in the sunshine. "That's become a coveted prize," says Mr. Reed.
Art students created large poster boards to be hung around the school, encouraging students to behave positively. And the expected behaviors even got a dry-run during the first days of school, with students physically practicing appropriate behavior for entering the school in the morning, fire drills, assemblies, hallway passing, and more.
"Even the few initial skeptics are seeing good results so far," says Mr. Reed. "This is a real team effort."
A group of eighth-grade students are among the first “Citizen Scientists” in the state to take part in a new air-quality testing program from the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Middle School science teacher Jason Brechko’s application into DEC’s Community Air Screen Program was one of only 23 proposals approved state-wide—and now allows some of his accelerated science students to fulfill their summer project requirement using some high-end scientific equipment.
“The air samples we collect are measured for volatile organic compounds in parts per billion (9 zeros),” says Mr. Brechko. “That is pretty wild. Having students participate gets them involved in an interdisciplinary scientific, economic, political process,” he continued. “They are the future decision makers so the more experience they have with these types of puzzles, the better.”
The idea to apply to the program came about during classroom discussions about chemicals used in the manufacturing process and how communities balance industry needs with environmental concerns. The new DEC program allows citizens to take research-quality air samples in communities across the state.
“This application was particularly interesting to us because we get to work with students,” says research scientist Randi Walker with the DEC. She and two colleagues joined five students and four parents on July 31 to help them get started with specially-designed canisters used for air collection.
The team split up to sample air at East Field and Jackson Heights Elementary that day, two of five sites they planned to test in total. The students handled the entire collection process, from setting up the vacuum-tank canisters and checking their calibration to recording other data at the site, such as weather conditions, temperature and potential problems like a lawn mower running in a nearby yard.
The project is a great tie-in to Regents biology curriculum and its unit on humans’ impact on the environment, noted Mr. Brechko.
Once collected, the air samples are delivered back to DEC for analysis, which will be complete later this fall.
“Just because we might measure something here, that doesn’t mean the air is bad,” said Ms. Walker. “We have monitors at the top of Whiteface Mountain, where the air is pristine, and we get measurements for the volatile organics that trees give out.”
“The students are going to remember this,” says Mr. Brechko. “They are going to feel great about themselves for doing this and it may inspire them to pursue a career in policy, industry, or science.”